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Painting Summer in New England

April 22 - September 4, 2006


(anove: Frank Weston Benson, Summer, 1909, .oil on canvas, 36 1/8 x 44 1/2 inches,.Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence. Gift of Isaac C. Bates. Photograph by Erik Gould)


The Peabody Essex Museum is presenting Painting Summer in New England, which opens April 22 and runs through Sept. 4, 2006. The exhibition, curated by Trevor Fairbrother, takes a fresh look at the lively, lyrical, and insightful ways in which painters have interpreted the special intersection of place and season in America's northeast corner. Marshaling an astonishing array of works -- more than 100 paintings by 82 artists from the late 1850s to the present, including Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Andrew Wyeth, Stuart Davis, George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Lois Dodd, Alex Katz, and Fairfield Porter -- the exhibition aims to "delight, astound, and surprise," says Dan Monroe, director and chief executive officer of the Peabody Essex Museum. This wonderfully vibrant exhibition "invites us to explore the richness of imagery that can be understood as 'New England' as well as the remarkable range of expression that the term 'painting' encompasses." (right: Allan Rohan Crite, Cambridge, Sunday Morning,1934, .oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches. Boston Athenaeum)

The first generation of 19th-century artists represented, among them John Frederick Kensett and Fitz Henry Lane, celebrated the atmospheric light of the rugged coast, while their peers George Inness and Thomas Worthington Whittredge depicted the bucolic delights of farms and fields. The influence of Impressionism is evident in turn-of-the-century works by Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent, Willard Leroy Metcalf, Lilian Westcott Hale, and Edmund C. Tarbell.

Subsequent generations of the artists included -- Maurice Prendergast, George Bellows, John Sloan, Marsden Hartley, Marguerite Zorach, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, John Marin, Hans Hofmann, Fairfield Porter, Alex Katz and Yvonne Jacquette -- have explored a multiplicity of styles, from realism to increasingly abstract arrangements of form and color.

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, the works in Painting Summer New England reveal the social and cultural preoccupations of the period in which they were made. While many painters created idealized images to appeal to an affluent, leisured class, some, such as Allan Rohan Crite, Jack Levine, and Beatrice Cuming, interpreted the ethnic and social diversity of the urban environment with empathy and directness.

That the Peabody Essex Museum has orchestrated this project is altogether fitting, according to Director Dan Monroe. Founded in 1799, the museum has played a seminal and ongoing role in preserving, promoting, and interpreting New England's art and culture as a critical part of the country's legacy and vision. Today, the museum has recast and extended that role as it integrates historical and contemporary art to create a museum experience that forges connections between art and the world in which it was made. The museum is delighted to present so many preeminent artists, among them Salem's native son Frank Weston Benson, whose iconic canvas, Summer, reminds us of the dynamic contributions of Boston's North Shore to American painting.

Painting Summer in New England is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalogue written by Fairbrother and published by Yale University Press (Spring 2006) in association with the Peabody Essex Museum and Marquand Books. It has nine thematic sections: Quiet Retreats, Sea and Shore, The Farm, Plant Life, Architecture, Streets and Gathering Places, Individuals, New England Nudes, and Coastal Light. These themes serve as "helpful gathering spots, rather than strict typologies," notes Fairbrother. The catalogue also includes a section on poetry, offered "in the same spirit of evoking and appreciating, rather than defining New England," he adds. (right: Edward Hopper, Road and Houses, South Truro,1930­33, oil on canvas, 27 x 43 inches. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Josephine N. Hopper Bequest)

The Peabody Essex Museum is grateful for the generosity of more than 50 American museums, galleries, collectors and artists, who lent works for the exhibition. Painting Summer in New England is supported in part by William E. Weiss Foundations, Inc., Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers, H.P. Hood LLC, and the Lowell Institute.


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revised 4//7/06

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